Tuesday, May 14, 2019

E Strings & E Tuners- What's Best?


By Andy Fein, Luthier at www.FineViolins.com
and Ivana Truong


The E string. In the world of violins, violas, and cellos, only the violin has the privilege and burden to play on the highest string. What sounds best? How do you keep it in tune? How do you keep it from hissing?

Is the E the most problematic string on your violin? Yes? Don't worry, you're not alone.

An 'Evah Pirazzi loop-end E string (right) & a Thomastik 'Special Program' Gold E (left)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Classical Music During the Chinese Cultural Revolution


By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins, Ltd.
And Ivana Truong


In our last blog, we traced the movements of Jewish refugees into Shanghai and other Chinese cities and how these became the seeds for violin playing and Western Classical music in China. For a few decades after World War II, Western Classical music slowly took root in China. But there were many obstacles, not the least of which was the Chinese Communist Revolution and the distrust of anything non-Chinese by those that were suddenly in power. This tension came to a tragic head with the ill-conceived "Cultural Revolution". A time when many musicians had to hide their skills and when many, many violins, violas, cellos, and pianos were destroyed.

 During the Cultural Revolution of China, all foreign mannerisms and culture were banned, including Western Classical music. Musicians and professors of classical music were actively persecuted and instruments were destroyed. Despite this, many people studied music secretively and a few even became professional musicians after the Cultural Revolution ended.

Image from The Red Detachment of Women, one of the operas promoting Mao and his values

Monday, April 1, 2019

Jewish Violinists Brought Western Classical Music to ...... China

By Andy Fein, Luthier, Fein Violins, Ltd.
and Ivana Truong


At the recent Violins of Hope event, which Andy attended, the violinist Xiang Gao was invited to perform “Shalom Shanghai”, a concert and musical telling the history of the violin within China and emphasizing the importance of the Jewish people within that history. The story of Jewish refugees in China is both incredibly important and surprising. Since the story isn't told much, we thought we would share it!
Image result for shanghai sonatas

Monday, March 18, 2019

Violins of Hope- Violins From The Holocaust Refuse To Be Silenced


By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins and Ivana Truong

Several years ago I wrote a blog post about a circle of friends that extended from my hometown of Cherry Hill, NJ to St. Paul, MN to Tel Aviv, Israel. One of those in the circle was Amnon Weinstein, a wonderful violin maker and restorer,  from Tel Aviv.

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Violins of Hope decorated with Magen David inlays

image from Violins of Hope Pheonix website
That previous blog post was written in 2011 and mentioned a project of Amnon's restoring violins (and violas and cellos) that had been played by Holocaust victims and survivors.  The instruments' survivals are a testament to the actuality of the Holocaust and to the fact that even though the Nazis tried to silence the Jewish people and our culture. THEY DID NOT SUCCEED.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Who Killed The Composer? Leclair's Mysterious Murder

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

Who killed composer, violinist, and dance master Jean-Marie Leclair? His ex-wife? The gardener? The Duke of Gramont? His son-in-law? His younger brother? The hard part about figuring out who killed Leclair is that he was disliked by so many people that the list of possible suspects with some kind of motivation was pretty long.  When he died in 1764, it seems not too many people were sorry to see him go.
Jean-Marie Leclair, the elder

         A beautiful duet with Perlman and Zukerman, Leclair's "Sonata No. 5"